Back in March, James Vonbehren and I were invited to attend the 8th annual John Paul Taylor Social Justice Symposium. As a consortium of non-profit groups and civic minded individuals, it was inspirational to see how many people here in Las Cruces are engaged in all these good works, trying to increase community awareness of the mutual challenges we are facing, and create more collaboration between all the people that have these goals in common. Last month, Randy Harris also invited several of our Camp Hope residents to a Great Conversation hosted by The Quality of Life Initiative to continue the dialogue about what we are all working through and what we can do to solve the problems that as a more coherent body of activism, can accomplish getting those things to the table.
On Saturday last, James, Dother Sykes, Mary Western And I, attended the Strengthening Communities Workshop, also Hosted by The Quality of Life Initiative. Randy Harris, and Bob Hearn(El Caldito Soup Kitchen-Camp Hope Supporter) were also there, and we had a chance to listen to Bob speak about his experience helping to organize efforts here in Las Cruces. One of the most impressive things Bob had to say was “it’s not just about what is good for OUR neighborhood, but more about the common good, for the greater good of all of us…..” this view is what helps make programs like Camp Hope succeed, at a time when many other cities and communities are not working with the homeless in the fashion that Las Cruces has adopted.
Another key speaker was Los Angeles City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas, who founded the Empowerment Congress in 1992. This Congress is a dynamic partnership among neighborhood groups and residents, nonprofit organizations, business leaders, religious institutions, and community leaders that serves overs 2.5 million residents in the 2nd Supervisorial District of Los Angeles county, an ongoing effort in participatory government. Mark and his two guests, Molina Abdula and Connie Watson, had a lot of motivational guidance to offer in terms of encouraging fuller participation of communities to improve quality of life, educating and informing the community on how government works, developing strategies that shape policy and legislation, and connecting communities to resources and services. It was a privilege to have them speak to the other members of the workshop and have them answer relevant questions.
Thanks to Jake Rollow for helping to organize these events and keep the ball rolling in Las Cruces!
The Quality of Life Initiative Has been supported by CAFE, Communities in Action and Faith, The Community Foundation of Southern New Mexico, Dona Ana County Health and Human Services Department, Great Conversations, The J. Paul Taylor Symposium at new Mexico State University, The office of U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman, The W. K. Kellogg Foundation, and many other agencies, organizations and individuals.
To contact the Initiative, Please call Jake at Senator Jeff Bingaman’s office: 575-523-6580